Boat Building 2011

Over the winter season, Chevalier Lodge, nestled near the woods in the northern part of campus, has been home to one of the most exclusive activities offered at Berkshire School: Boat Building.

Mr. Giles, the course instructor, guides a few students as they build full-scale boats. At the end of the school year, the students take their boats home and get to use them.

All of the boats are built from scratch. While building their boats, the students learn a variety of skills such as how to operate wood working tools, properties of different woods, and techniques on constructing a large project. At the beginning, the students confer with Mr. Giles to come up with plans for their boat. Students get to cut out the ribs and stringers, along with other features for the boat, and eventually piece together a skeleton. One of the last steps involves covering the boat with a canvas, a process that lends the term “skin on frame” its name. The boat is relatively lightweight when finished.

This year, three students participated in the activity: Sam Cabot '13, Wesley Lickus '13 and Lewis Xie '13. Two boats were made, a 13-foot sailboat and a 10-foot kayak.

It is very interesting to actually make a craft by hand. Today, many boats are made of fiberglass, making the skin on frame design unique. The process is an old technique and requires a lot of work. The students, though, have a lot of fun helping each other build their boats and there is much satisfaction when the final product is done.

Mr. Giles teaches Geometry and Algebra and also coaches track. He has had much experience in woodworking and has instructed Boat Building for six years. He has assisted students in building canoes, kayaks, and for the first time, a sailboat. Last year, 6 students participated and 3 boats were built.

This year’s boats are on exhibit in the atrium of Berkshire Hall. The course is a lot of fun and the students are proud of what they can make.

-- Sam Cabot ‘13

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